Four Everyday Players the Twins Could Trade Away for Pitching Help
The Major League Baseball trade deadline is approaching faster than Jorge Alcala’s fastball. That doesn’t leave much more time for the Minnesota Twins to execute a trade that could land the type of starting pitcher, who would catapult them into serious World Series conversations.
After discussing potential deadline pitching pickups last week, I wanted to dive deeper into what the Twins would need to part with, for said pickups? If they want to make a big splash, it may cost MLB ready talent such as Miguel Sano or Eddie Rosario.
There are mixed opinions on who is expendable, and who isn’t but let’s dive deeper into who the team would actually ship away. A reminder that to get a top-end pitcher, these trades would not be a one-to-one player swap. Instead, they will likely need to include higher end prospects to sweeten the pot.
Amused that we’re on year three of people holding the doublethink that “Miguel Sanó sucks” but also “trading Miguel Sanó” will net a top starting pitcher. Please stop this.— Matt Braun (@matthew_btwins) August 25, 2020
Sano is likely the first name that comes to a lot of fan’s minds. Whether it is his high strikeout rate or lack of excellent defense, a lot of people have given up on the big man. But they would be fooling themselves if they believe he (and even some prospects) would bring in the type of pitching the Twins need.
The biggest issue with Sano is that he is relatively hot right now. After an atrocious start, he has dragged his slash line back up to .247/.350/.562 with a wOBA of .379 and a wRC+ of 140. The only times those numbers have been topped in his career were his rookie season. Throw in leading both leagues in exit velocity (96.8 mph), being in the top 1% of barrel percentage (24.4%) and he has become a rock for the club the last few weeks.
Miguel Sano is so damn good. I’m in love with the bat toss. Him and Cruz are carrying this offense!— Cooper (@CoopCarlson) August 25, 2020
Yes, he is striking out more than 42% of the time, but he is also walking in 13.6% of his plate appearances. Like it or not, strikeouts are a natural part of his game. While his contract is friendly ($10 million/year through 2022) and could be a part of discussions, he is too integral at the moment to trade.
Sano has always been a part of the long-term plans for Thad Levine and Derek Falvey. He was part of the Twins’ core of players, who rose through the ranks together, in the late 2010s.
Trade Possibility: Unlikely
Another name that has been thrown around a lot in trade talks the past few years, Eddie Rosario is hitting his stride at the right moment. He has stepped up to carry the team offensively, alongside Sano and Nelson Cruz.
His average isn’t spectacular (.241) but he is striking out only 14.6% of the time. This is thanks to a more patient approach at the plate. Rosario is unlucky when he makes contact. He’s hitting on top of the ball 34% of his at bats and under the ball 31.9% of the time. That’s not ideal, but he has been hot the last week, bringing his average up from .217 to .250, at one point.
Rosario is a bit more of a toss up, when forecasting this trade deadline. He is making only $7.75 million this year, and is arbitration eligible for the 2021 campaign and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2022. We’ve seen plenty of rental players in the past, but he likely won’t be going to a team making a serious playoff push. Why would they bother?
Plus, he isn’t even that amazing of a left fielder. Yes, he can occasionally gun a runner down who might be stupid enough to test his arm, but Eddie has just a -2 Outs Above Average and a -3% Success Rate Added. Those numbers rank among the league’s worst (9th percentile). You only want to remember the great plays, but that doesn’t mean the bad ones don’t exist.
Trade Possibility: Borderline
Marwin’s role is a bit of an enigma with the Twins. He isn’t going to rip the cover off the ball (89.7 exit velocity) nor barrel the ball up (14th percentile). But what he can do is provide versatility in the field.
Rocco Baldelli has deployed him in a variety of roles over the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He played every position but pitcher, catcher and centerfield in 2019. Gonzalez can be slotted almost anywhere.
With the Twins seemingly riddled with injuries every week, Gonzalez has found his way into the lineup as an everyday player. While his stats aren’t going to jump off the page, he is too valuable as a utility man to give up. That’s before you even start to talk about the wealth of playoff knowledge he brings to a inexperienced playoff team.
Plus, the Twins would need to part with a plethora of prospects just to get something worthwhile in return.
Trade Possibility: Not worth it
This one is laughable, but I have to put it on here. When healthy, Buxton has shown he is one of, if not the, best defensive outfielder in Major League Baseball. He shows plenty of promise with the bat in his hands too.
The issue has never been whether or not he can get it done in the big leagues. Instead, it’s always about whether he can stay healthy. Every year, Buxton will go on week, or even month-long tears where he looks calm and finds success at the plate, while repeatedly spinning the highlight reel with amazing catches… Then like clockwork, he somehow gets injured and we start all over again.
#MNTwins Roster Moves: Club selects contract of Ryan Jeffers, recalls Zack Littell and LaMonte Wade Jr.; Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver placed on 10-day IL; Lewis Thorpe optioned to Alternate Training Site. pic.twitter.com/siSMWp8kP7— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) August 20, 2020
Buxton is beyond frustrating, as a player. He ranks below the 50th percentile in Exit Velocity, Hard Hit %, xwOBA, xBA, K%, and Whiff %. Sure, his speed can make up for all of that, if he gets the barrel to the ball (67th percentile in Barrel % and 99th in sprint speed), but injuries continue to hamper any positive upsides. No team would be stupid enough to give up a top-tier player or prospect for Byron Buxton at this point in time.
Trade Possibility: Laughable
Hedging Bets For 2020 or Beyond?
These are the four players most likely to be used as pawns, by the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline. Before any deals are had, though. One big question needs to be answered (behind closed doors, it’s already been addressed I’m sure). Are they going all in on 2020 or hedging their bets for the future?
In all likelihood, it will be a mix of both. You don’t bring in Josh Donaldson if you aren’t in “win-now” mode. But when you have a farm system as ripe with talent as the Twins’, do you sell it to possibly win one, maybe two championships?
The Twins are, unfortunately, not the Yankees or Dodgers. They can’t have their cake and eat it too. This is a delicate time for this franchise… How “all-in” do you go, while still being responsible?
The Twins make a run this year, and then return most of the important pieces (minus Cruz) in '21 – while potentially incorporating Lewis (SS/OF) & Larnach (OF) throughout the year. Santana (ARB in '21) takes over for departing super-sub Marwin Gonzalez. pic.twitter.com/8v9fUofZWi— Fake Baseball Trades (@mlb_fake_trades) August 25, 2020
What About the Minors?
The Twins do have a good minor league system to work with for a trade. They ranked 7th in MLB, prior to the draft this year. Without an opportunity to showcase in 2020, who knows how low the asking price could be for some of the organization’s best prospects. The best deadline option might be for the Twins to leave well-enough alone, until we get through this fog and into 2021.
The 2020 World Series winner will have to compete with asterisks and bullshit, anyway. Maybe an absurdly great offer will come through in the coming days. But I wouldn’t be holding my breath for any big blockbusters in the next few days, even if they need it.
Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan